Not only does organizing your professional goals help to make your working hours count, it also prevents your creative business from growing like a hearty weed into every nook and cranny of your life. You must give your business boundaries and tend to it the same way you’d nurture a lush garden. This takes a little planning, but I promise it will be well worth your efforts.
Here are four simple steps for organizing your professional goals:
Step #1: Name the results you want.
Spring is an excellent time for a creative planning session. You’ll want to begin by identifying what you hope to achieve.
I typically set 6-month goals for my business, and I start by asking the following questions:
• What is it that I want from this business in the next six months?
• What needs to happen over the next six months for me to feel successful?
• What actions do I need to take to bring my goals to fruition?
• How many sales/readers/followers do I hope to gain?
• What’s the exact dollar amount of profit that I need to earn in the next six months to prove this business is worth my time and effort?
Step #2: List the actions that will get you there.
Focus your working hours on only the things that will lead you to the results you want. For example, if I spend an hour making treasuries on Etsy to try to get to the popular page which helps me get views and shop hearts … well, those aren’t sales. I’ve learned over time and a steady lack of results that treasuries bring me views and shop hearts – nothing else.
Therefore, your action steps need to be a whole lot more of what you know works for your business. If you’re just starting out, do what you know works for other successful businesses in your industry.
Here’s a list of actions I’m currently working on as an example:
Accomplish the following by July 30, 2014:
• Publish my next book, The Ultimate Blog Kit
• Reach 4,000 sales in my Etsy shop
• Celebrate the 4th anniversary of my business with a sale
• Celebrate the 4th anniversary of my business with a behind-the-scenes article about its success
• Bring home at least $10,000 in profits
Step #3: Identify what slows your momentum.
Do you guys remember me from that meeting? My name’s Lisa, and I’m a clickaholic. In other words, I’m an obsessive internet-clicker. Nothing on the internet satisfies my need to know what’s happening, so I click and surf through all of my favorite sites waiting for something new to happen.
In the motivational book, This Year I Will …, author M.J. Ryan titled one chapter: “What Need is Being Served by What You’re Doing Now?” Another version of that question is, “If this moment were a dollar, am I investing it? Or burning it?”
When I find myself saying that I’m so “busy,” I have to evaluate my schedule to find where the energy zaps and time drains are. Nine times out of ten, I’m so busy because I’ve been on the computer all day clicking much of it away. It eats up hours of my valuable time.
If you’re not a clicker, I challenge you to figure out where your time may be wasted. Whether it’s TV, virtual games (Candy Crush, anyone?) or YouTube, our time wasters typically involve screens. Turn off all the screens in your home to find true productivity!
Step #4: Create time blocks to complete unfinished business.
To turn time from a pressure cooker into a pleasure, you must begin to pay attention to where you apply your attention. I can’t obsessively click my six favorite websites waiting for something to happen and make something happen at the same time. I have to choose one or the other.
Each week, there are tasks on your to-do list that you simply do not want to do. That’s life. When those tasks crop up, do you feel the energy zap they cause?
Clicking around the internet, leaving piles of unfinished projects, and calling a friend in the middle of a making session are all forms of procrastination. Acknowledge them! It’s equally empowering and time-enhancing.
In order to get more stuff done, create an uninterrupted block of time in your day when you’ll work on NOTHING else. Think short but powerful sessions, and set a timer for 25 minutes (always use a timer with an alarm; it helps you keep your head down and stay focused on the task at hand).
Challenge yourself to get as much of your energy-zapping activities done in that block of twenty-five minutes, and I promise, you’ll be amazed at the results you produce!
When you spend your minutes wisely, your effort is always rewarded. How are you investing your moments?
Love all these points, Lisa. In Step 1 once I’ve identified my goals (I do them annually and break them down into quarters), I posted them on a white board above my desk so I can see them ALL the time. When the Pinterest monster comes to town to distract me, the visual reminder of my goals pulls me back on track.
I love that idea, Ali. Do you find that your goals change or evolve over the year? It seems that mine always do, and I always wonder if that happens to anyone else 🙂
Wonderful article Lisa and really helpful. I especially love the weed analogy… so true! I think the best thing I’ve done for my business is define its boundaries and then stay true to them – at least do my best to try! I’ve been amazed at how much more productive I’ve been now that I know the set hours I spend on it are the only hours in the day that I get.
Thanks, Anne! I agree – boundaries make everything better.
Great article. I never thought about setting up time to work on unfinished business. It totally makes sense. I’m definitely a clicker and realize that blog reading and FB take up loads of my time. However the blog reading is a two-fold task – it’s how I connect with others who have similar interests. I also have goals in my head, but don’t really put them down. I think breaking them down in the short term goals, asking/answering the questions on how to get there AND actually putting them somewhere that I can see them daily will be a great benefit to me. My one takeaway from this article is the importance of scheduling. Thanks so much for sharing!
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